Enough already

Robin Brownlee
February 03 2009 11:24PM

makeatrade

“You have to get better from the inside. We have to get better as a group (and) individually. That’s the only way you’ll be able to sustain something… it’s difficult. Teams are looking for energy players. Teams are looking for defencemen. They’re looking for top-six forwards." -- GM Steve Tambellini, Feb. 2, 2009

Tambellini doesn't need advice from me, but having watched yet another emotionless, flat stinker by the Edmonton Oilers that wasn't nearly as close on the ice as it was on score board in a 3-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, he's going to get some.

With 50 games in the books, getting better from the inside isn't working. It's time to go outside. It's time to get on the telephone. It's time to make a trade to shake up a team clearly incapable of generating the emotion and intensity it's going to take to secure a playoff spot in the next 32 games.

What? Rob Schremp is going to make a difference? Tim Sestito? How about the players in the dressing room now? Ethan Moreau? Shawn Horcoff? Tom Gilbert? Dustin Penner? Liam Reddox? Uh,no.

How much more of what the people who pay to get into Rexall Place have seen in recent days does Tambellini have to contemplate before he realizes this team isn't good enough to make the playoffs?

It doesn't need to be a blockbuster because that's probably pie-in-the-sky stuff -- unless Tambellini wants blow his wad and put everybody except Ales Hemsky on the table and see what happens -- but it needs to be a trade to inject some enthusiasm, balls, jam, brass, whatever you want to call it, into a team profoundly lacking in it. If some of those qualities come attached to a mean-as-hell shut down defenceman or a proven penalty killer, all the better.

Don't wait for the deadline. Do it now.

Tick, tick, tick...

The Oilers play seven of their next eight games on the road, they've lost three of their last four games and they're packing for stops in St. Louis, Detroit and Minnesota without Lubomir Visnovsky.

They're 25-22-3 and sitting in ninth place as they jump a jet for the Show Me State. They have absolutely no chance, none, of finishing these next eight games that high in the standings with this group of players.

For those who fancy firing coach Craig MacTavish as their default solution, let's get off that, shall we? That isn't going to happen right now. It isn't going to happen next week. It isn't going to happen until after a move's been made to shake this line-up from the comfort zone it’s clearly fallen into. How else do you explain another heartless effort against the Blackhawks?

So, let's dispense with the drama and make a move, or moves, now. With all of the time Tambellini's spent on the phone, he's got a pretty good picture of what's out there and who's available -- even if he isn't letting on. Can't get Jason Spezza out of Ottawa via the big deal route in a swap of bad contracts for Horcoff as part of a package? Fine. Add somebody who competes. Send a message. Shake it up.

I get it that patience is a virtue. I get it that it's better to make a deal from a position of strength. But with this group of players so obviously content with mediocrity, the only position the Oilers are destined to assume between now and the NHL trade deadline involves grabbing ones ankles.

It's time to make a deal.

-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6pm on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#101 David S
February 04 2009, 04:13PM
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First it was "The Warrior", who was ably dispatched by Robin. Now it's Traktor.

Time to reactivate the seldom used IP ban button.

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#102 Risto
February 04 2009, 04:14PM
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I'm with you Travis.

I'm also positive this team can turn it around.

And a good roadtrip is a place to start.

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#103 Deep Oil
February 04 2009, 04:19PM
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David S wrote:

First it was “The Warrior”, who was ably dispatched by Robin. Now it’s Traktor. Time to reactivate the seldom used IP ban button.

Then traktor would just visit his cousin "kombine" and use his commodore 64....

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#104 RobinB
February 04 2009, 04:25PM
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@ Travis Dakin: Fans here appreciate effort, even if the results aren't always what they want. How can the Oilers possibly expect fans to sit back and keep digging into their pockets for what they're seeing now? It's not even close to good enough.

That falls on the entire organization from the top down. Management, coaches and players. If some people who comment here can't grasp that -- let's criticize the writers instead because so and so always blames the coach and not the players or vice-versa -- then they aren't paying attention.

Lowe built this team. Every player on the roster except Moreau was drafted, traded for or otherwise acquired on Lowe's watch as GM. If the team isn't good enough, that falls on him.

MacTavish coaches this team. If the Oilers miss the playoffs for a third straight year after he deemed them a division contender, it would be insane for him not to wear that.

And the players? There are under-achievers throughout the line-up with only a few exceptions. There's no consistency in effort. On and on . . . There's lot of blame to go around.

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#105 Jack "slacking off at work" Bauer
February 04 2009, 04:48PM
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I think it boils down to again what it means to be in the media with access to the people involved. Your not there to relay the fans point of veiw to the team, your there to relay the teams point of veiw to the fans.

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#106 Chris
February 04 2009, 05:53PM
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What exactly does build from "inside" mean Tambellini? Are you going to slip MacT Rexall Brand Smart Pills? Will he devise some new genius line combination like skating all our centers as a line? Are you going to feed Gags, and Cogs human growth hormone? Motivate Penner with Taco's? Are you going to turn Reddox into a legit first line player through the power of hypnotherapy? Or are you finally going to re-revamp a scouting department that hasn't drafted a single +100pt player since Stoll? A scouting Dept that wasted first round picks on Niinimaki, Dubnyk, and Schremp. A Scouting Department that picked Pouliot ahead of Corey Perry, Mike Richards, Shea Weber, Lee Stempniak, Patrick Eaves, Patrice Bergeron, Patrick O'Sullivan or even Ryan Kesler? A crew so out to lunch that they use a FIRST round pick on a Jr B player who plays thirty or so games a year at Cornell in the lowly ECAC? A scouting department whose nose for talent have Springfield sniffing the basement of the entire AHL? Why are the Rangers able to find Zidlicky in the sixth round, and Prucha in the eighth? Dallas found Jussi Jokinen in the sixth round; Colorado uncovered Svatos as a seventh rounder... Does the KLowe appointed Scouting have even ONE late round success story?

So we are "building from the inside", eh? Are the fans being asked to accept a playoff no-show for the third straight season? Are we to wait five or so years for the team to renew itself through drafting and development? Can our current staff even accomplish this with high picks?

I've asked a lot of questions Tambellini... Are there ever any answers?

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#107 David S
February 04 2009, 06:26PM
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Jack "slacking off at work" Bauer wrote:

I think it boils down to again what it means to be in the media with access to the people involved. You're not there to relay the fans point of view to the team, you're there to relay the teams point of view to the fans.

Nail hit squarely on the head there Jack.

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#108 rindog
February 04 2009, 07:55PM
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@ RobinB:

I just don't know that you can convince me that any other new players will come in and do anything but underacheive (just like most of our recent acquisitions).

Are the Oilers looking to just squeek in and get knocked out in the first round (and get their $2 million in gate receipts) or are they wanting to take a shot at a post season run?

What makes us think that Mact is the guy to take us on a post season run when he can't get this team to beat the bottom feeders of the league?

Before people bring up the point about MacT leading us in 06 - does anyone really think he is the guy to do it for us again?

Or is MacT only good at coaching when the players do not need any extra incentive to play hard (ie. post season)?

If that is the case - skid him now and take our chances....

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#109 Jack "slacking off at work" Bauer
February 04 2009, 08:16PM
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Well remember in 2006 the Oil were a crap team, with crap goaltending, and seemingly no hope of making the playoffs going into the deadline.

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#110 GP coach
February 04 2009, 08:34PM
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Hey dude - Remember the Oil made the playoffs only because the Canucks screwed the pooch by losing their last game. No credit to MacTavish.

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#111 RobinB
February 04 2009, 08:52PM
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rindog wrote:

I just don’t know that you can convince me that any other new players will come in and do anything but underacheive (just like most of our recent acquisitions).

Fair comment. A move at this point isn't necessarily about bringing in a world-beater, it's just as often made to shake-up the other players still here and get them going. When a teammate/friend has to pack his bags, it tends to get everybody'd attention.

rindog wrote:

What makes us think that Mact is the guy to take us on a post season run when he can’t get this team to beat the bottom feeders of the league?

No guarantees of that, either. But the approach the Oilers will take, disagree with it or not, is that they'll make a deal (or deals) first, and see how the team responds. If that doesn't work, the next step is looking at the coaching. I'm not saying doing it that way is right or wrong, but that's how they'll do it.

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#112 Fortboy
February 04 2009, 10:20PM
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I love that NHL commercial with the Staal bro's parents on the family farm with a tractor that has balder tires than Pierre Maguire's dome.

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#113 rindog
February 05 2009, 12:24AM
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@ RobinB:

Okay - I can accept that. I don't agree with their approach (only because it seems to be a total repeat of '06). Correct me if I am wrong, but MacT was prepared to pack it if the didn't make the playoffs that year? If we make some trades and squeak into the playoffs - where does that leave the coaching situation going forward?

While the cup run was great, it seemed to set us back more than we realize. We had to extend a coach that didn't really have the answers up to that year (and hasn't had them since). It also caused us to overpay alot of guys that didn't really deserve it (and almost forced us to give those players too much responsibility).

As much as I don't think it is the right move - I would welcome Lowe going down behind the bench.

I think it solves most of the problems (short term).

We get the wake-up call that we desperately need. We get to see if our team is able to respond without giving up any of the players that management thought were good enough to start this season.

And, the players will have a chance to show the club if they should be included in our future plans?

However, conceding that a coaching move will not happen; do you think these deals are coming today, tomorrow, this week or right before the deadline?

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#114 rindog
February 05 2009, 12:39AM
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@ RobinB:

I also wanted to ask your opinion on something else coaching related?

A few days ago MacT suggested that he was going to play Hemsky as much as he could - I think he said something like, "If he isn't breathing heavy on the bench - he is going out!"

Can you explain how Hemsky got only 2:48 more even strength icetime than Stortini did?

It's not like it was a blowout game (on the scoreboard anyway)? It was a game that we needed to have and yet the coach couldn't get Hemsky anymore icetime?

I have a comparison I would like to share with you - but I would like to see what your response is first???

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#115 troyboy
February 05 2009, 09:58AM
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@ Chris

I agree in hindsight that there were definately better players out there in particular draft years, but part of the problem has been develoment, big problem. We are seeing the downside today, of not having a farm team 3-4 years ago. Having players like JDD, Dubnyk, Pouliot, Brodziak, etc playing for teams that never really had a vested interest in them, created a "step back" in many of there careers. Those 19-21 years are important ones in young hockey careers. Today our farm system is still a mess(as was metioned earlier). Drafting most years is a crap shoot, but having a great developmental process certainly up the chances for success. So as Tambo says we have build from within... from where. Schremp got lambaisted by MacT, so in the slim chance he ever gets the call, instant friction. Brule stays here on his next callup (which is a good idea) he has way more upside than Potulny or Reddox. After that who is ready, Trukno, Goulet? not this year. So I agree Chris that our depth isn't great But I don't neccesarily think you can solely hang scouting on it. The Oilers look deep on the backend but upfront are looking thinner and thinner. I hope Tambo has lots of irons in the fire. P.S wasn't part of Lowe's job as president of operations to fix our issues with our affiliates?

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#116 Fortboy
February 05 2009, 10:05AM
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Hey Robin. Good article and I totally agree, we need a shakeup. Maybe next time this pic may be more appropriate. http://roicopy.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/06/windowslivewriterbusinessideastohelpyourmagazine-b841maxwell-smart2.jpg

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#117 Chris
February 05 2009, 04:48PM
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@ troyboy: Fair point. Drafting AND Development... It still all falls on the GM. After years and years of waiting for improvement, It seems Oiler Fans are destined to wait some more...

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#118 Yakman
February 06 2009, 12:30AM
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Hey, notice that Dennis isn't commenting on this article Robin? Ha ha ha Dennis IS a twit...

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